Jondou Chase Chen
I’ve always been surrounded by stories. I grew up during the 1980s in Southern California as a Taiwanese-American kid from a large immigrant family. There were four or five languages in our home any given week, and stories of our days, our ancestors, or dreams, our struggles. As a kid, I didn’t always know how to make sense of so many stories -- that I only heard certain stories in specific places and that some of the stories contradicted or were a stark contrast to others. There were so many me’s that I was supposed to be. A nice guy. An honorable Taiwanese son. An all-American man. A born-again (and again and again) believer. I wanted to be it all and became dizzier and dizzier in my attempts to reconcile it all.
Thankfully, I never felt alone or powerless in my process.
I remember working in my grandmother Amy’s garden with my cousins and taking walks along the beach with my grandfather Du Hong. These were my first teachers, who taught me histories and traditions and skills that continue to guide my way forward. And then there were those educators, four Black men - Ken Anderson, Earl Faison, Sheldon Reid, and Donald Burroughs - who didn’t just teach but called me in as a fellow man of color and modelled for me what it is to be a male educator of color.
I came to SEED as a new leader in 2003 bringing these strengths and these struggles, and what I found was a waystation to be with others who did the same. We came to further our work by taking the time to deepen our understanding of ourselves, our worlds, and the communities, institutions, and organizations we are seeking to change. I came to SEED having worked professionally as a social service provider and high school history teacher. And since I joined staff in 2005, SEED has been a critical element part of my journey in faith-based community organizing, alternative education, and now social science research and higher education instruction. As a SEED co-director and faculty member at the University of Washington College of Education, I love working with community members, students, organizers, and educators to envision and enact the justice that each of us needs. Let’s do this.